AWA debut 

Tom Zenk's debut in the AWA, 1984 - part 1
Tom Zenk segues from bodybuilding to wrestling in the AWA, 1984

Tom Zenk in the AWA, 1984 - part 2
Tom Zenk 'pays his dues' for AWA but the chances of a push from the undercard are slim in the AWA family promotion...........

Tom Zenk in the AWA, 1985 - part 3
Tom Zenk in the AWA - 1984-5 final - leaving 'Gagne town'...

AWA debut -  the images 

AWA Contact Prints
"These were the first 8x10's taken to send to prospective promotors. They were taken against a school wall, as I recall. I had no idea how to pose - what a geek!!"

AWA Scrapbook
AWA photo album

Debut in AWA, 1984
Tom Zenk's pro-wrestling debut in AWA - images, details and results including Manitoba.

Images and press clips
debut in AWA, 1984-5


AWA debut -  the articles 

Introducing Tom Zenk, 1984
This article written in early 1985 is a promotional piece for a young Tom Zenk, just breaking into the pro wrestling scene....... 

How Gagne put some flex into Tom Zenk's muscle-bound physique
byPaul Heyman, Wrestling Scene (early 1985)
Promotional article written in early 1985 by future ECW promoter Paul Heyman...


AWA - the matches

All Tom's AWA matches - early 1980's | late 1980s


    Tom Zenk versus -

AWA debut -  souvenirs

Souvenir AWA Program


Early Canada tours
Tom Zenk tours Canada for Frank Valois and AWA .....

8 x 10s - Canadian Championship Wrestling

Tom Zenk in Canada, 19845 - 5
Tom Zenk's work in AWA Canada 1984 -5

Tom Zenk in Manitoba
Match history - Tom Zenk in Winnipeg, Manitoba

AWA - a brief return, 1988, 1989
Tom Zenk does occasional work for Verne Gagne between Japan tours

Tom Zenk returns to the AWA, 1988
Tom Zenk returns to AWA, 1988, after the Can-Am split.

Tom Zenk Speaks Out - CIJI Brianne/ original photos by Linda Boucher from Wrestling Fury

Why Zenk Must WIn The World Title

Tom Zenk - why he must win the world title
Tom Zenk returns to the AWA in 1988

Tom Zenk narrowly misses out as Larry Zbyszko wins the AWA World Title In A Battle Royal  - Bob Smith PWI June 1989 <<

Zenk in AWA
Back in the AWA Part 2 -  By around the late spring of 1988 Zenk ......

Tom Zenk battles Larry Zbyszko in AWA battle royal
Tom Zenk in battle royal for AWA world title

8 February 1988 - Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports Tom Zenk is signed to face Billy Robinson on the 02/04 show at the Minneapolis Auditorium, the last show at the arena before it is torn down, and Meltzer is surprised by that match, because independent promotions won't use Robinson because of his rep for shooting, and that he could easily shoot with Zenk..... An AWA album will be coming out soon, featuring Greg Gagne, Baron Von Raschke, Wahoo McDaniel, Jerry Blackwell, Tommy Rich, Dick Slater, Jerry Lawler, Jeff Jarrett, the Midnight Rockers and Tom Zenk. The album is being recorded in Atlanta. Blackwell, Rich and Slater were there because the Gagnes helped them get an insurance break for their new promotion. Lawler and Jarrett were there because there is planned to be more talent swapping between both territories in the future. In fact, Curt Hennig is scheduled to work a heavy schedule for CWA because the AWA is no longer running a full schedule.

15 February 1988 - Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that the final card at the Minneapolis Auditorium happened on 02/04 before a low turnout of 1,700 fans. They were hyping it as Nostalgia Night, and the WWF countered by running "Mad Dog Vachon Night" in the same market the following week, and even ended up bringing in old AWA stars for their show like The Crusher, Nick Bockwinkel and Blackjack Lanza. Verne had Red Bastien, Killer Kowalski, Carl Eller (never wrestled, but was a member of the Minnesota Vikings Purple People Eaters front four in the early 70s), Butch Levy, Leo Nomellini, Hard Boiled Haggerty, Dick the Bruiser (who wrestled), Billy Robinson and perennial jobber Kenny "Sodbuster" Jay, who actually got the biggest pop. Verne Gagne and Stanley Blackburn were in attendance as well.Meltzer says Zenk/Robinson stood out in the wrong way, because Zenk is the only potential contender they have for Hennig, and a 50-year old guy took him to a 20-minute draw. He also controlled the entire match, which was in slow motion and Zenk had no opportunity to do anything to get himself over. The AWA now doesn't have a venue lined out for the Twin Cities. -- Kelly Kiniski quit. He was unhappy with his $170 weekly check and went back to Canada. -- Nord the Barbarian quit. He's hugely over in the AWA because of his car commercials, but Verne never wanted to push him because he didn't think he could last.

22 February 1988 - Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that Tom Zenk quit the same day he was to do an angle with Curt Hennig at a TV taping, because he wanted a guarantee. He also didn't understand the logic of doing a time limit draw with Billy Robinson before feuding with Hennig. -- The Nasty Boys have been let go. -- In addition to Curt Hennig, Kevin Kelly and Madusa Miceli are also on guarantees. Hennig's is $1,500 per week and Kelly and Miceli's is less than $300 per week.


Rare interview with Mick Karsh,  "Saturday Night at Ringside" Channel 23 Minneapolis,  30 July 1988 -  a little over a year after the Can-Am Split. 

Larry Nelson - AWA commentator - extracts from his biography
Many of the matches in the Tom Zenk Collection #1 and 2 - (AWA 1984-5) were taped in Winnipeg for AWA's Canadian TV show.  This show aired weekly on TSN but was taped once a month in Winnipeg. What happened at night in the local hotel is the subject of much of AWA commentator Larry Nelson's recent book Stranglehold. In these extracts Nelson writes about 'carney', Eric Bischoff and a typical night out in Winnipeg - "the best party stop on the AWA circuit."

Zenk proves to be Wrestling's High Plains Drifter
Ray Whebbe , Pro Wrestling Torch, 1988
Tom Zenk sits down with Ray Whebbe of Pro Wrestling Torch and looks back on the first half of his wrestling career



Tom Zenk Pro-wrestling Scrapbook for 1988-9
More images of Tom Zenk from 1988-9


Segue to the NWA, 1989

Z-Man settles in the NWA
By Kris Pope
Twin Cities Wrestling Update, October 4, 1989

"This month our interview is with local native, turned major league wrestling superstar, The Z-Man.  The Z-Man, who many know as Tom Zenk, has recently been employed by the National Wrestling Alliance in their attempt to gain the top talent today.... Here is our telephone conversation."

Tom Zenk moves to the NWA, WCW
Tom Zenk, the Z-man moves to the NWA and WCW - magazine article

Back to the NWA
Tom The Model Zenk This article reaffirms much of the information we've already provided of Tom Zenk's transition from Can-Am to Japan to AWA and onto the NWA ...

AWA debut -  the video tape collection

The Tom Zenk Collection - Volumes 1 and 2
20 high quality video matches, including rare arena video of the young Tom Zenk in single and tag tema action vs Bockwinkel, Billy Robinson, Kendo Nagasaki, The Road Warriors, Super Destroyer, Kamala, King Tonga, Jimmy Garvin, The Freebirds,The Alaskans and Mr Saito - details


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